I was first introduced to Manna as a volunteer sometime around 2004. I participated in monthly box packing events for nearly two years. At the same time, I worked for various social service organizations in Montgomery County since moving to the area in 2001 and so I also knew Manna as a great source of food for our clients who were encountering numerous barriers to self-sufficiency. It was not until I joined Manna in June of 2013 that I understood the full scope and impact of this organization. Last June, I saw the job opening at Manna and thought it would be a good fit for the next stage in my career. I knew the organization, it had a great reputation and was focused on cause I believed in.
How's it going so far?
I joined Manna at time when the organization was going through significant growth and transformation. The organization was starting to focus more on nutrition and nutrition education and no longer measuring our impact based solely on the weight of food in and food out. In addition, we saw a large increase in the demand for service. At the start of the recession, we were serving around 1,400 households a month and today that average is nearly 3,760. In addition to meeting demand, there is a lot of opportunity for us to look at the way we are implementing our programs to see if we can do our work in a more efficient or effective manner. I have had an opportunity to implement some of my own ideas and we are modernizing many of our processes so it is an exciting time.
That must be gratifying. Anything you'd like to add before we wrap this up?
I do find the impact of this work gratifying. Ultimately, I work in this sector because I want to make a positive change in my community. I know that every day, the work we do helps people get through a difficult time in their lives and, ideally, it helps them come a little closer to self-sufficiency.
I think that everyone can be a part of this process. You do not have to work in this sector to make a significant and positive difference in your community. Find a cause that is meaningful to you and donate, volunteer, or join a board. There are a lot of great organizations working on some of the most challenging issues we face today and they need support. I encourage everyone to think about the positive changes they would like to see in their community, set a reasonable goal and help make it happen.
You're doing great work, Mark. It's been such a pleasure to learn about Manna. Thanks so much for talking with me.
All photo credits are to: Manna Food Center 2014.
Manna Food Center websiteManna Food Center comes to Colesville, 9.30.2014